Biochar is a carbon-rich solid produced by pyrolysis of biomass under partial or complete exclusion of oxygen. The process converts ‘labile’ carbon in biomass, carbon that is easily degraded and recycles continuously in the biota, into ‘recalcitrant’ carbon which resists degradation and can sequester carbon on soil for centuries.
The product is identical to charcoal, except it is primarily used for soil amendment purposes. However, it has myriads of applications like cleaning water, reducing odor, adsorbing toxic pollutants on soil to name a few.
Courtesy of Biochar Solutions Inc.
Biochar is found in soils from around the world. It can be formed as a result of natural vegetation fires and has also been created and used by humans in traditional agricultural practices in the Amazon Basin of South America for more than 2,500 years which are locally termed as Terra Preta de Indio – The Amazonian Dark Earths. The late Dutch soil scientist Wim Sombroek (1934-2003) was instrumental in bringing the significance of these soils to the attention of the world over four decades ago. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (Terra Preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer and more recently as a potential carbon sequestration media/agent.
Crop and Soil Impacts
Water Quality Impacts
Microbial Population Impacts
Negative Impacts* (Potential Risks Associated with unsafe Biochar)
*It is therefore very important to formulate optimum feedstock quality threshold and safe pyrolysis process operating boundary for the production of consistent and safe quality biochar.